What is a pronoun?

A pronoun is a word used to refer to either the people who are talking (like “I” or “you”) or a person being talked about in the third person (like “she/her,” “he/him,” and “they/them”). Since some pronouns are gendered (“she/her” and “he/him”), it is important to be intentional about the way we use pronouns as we all work to create as inclusive an environment as possible. Using someone’s correct pronouns is also a way to show you respect them and helps create an inclusive environment. It signals that the person matters to you. 

Why do pronouns matter?

Ask yourself how many times someone has used your name or a pronoun to refer to you today. Chances are this has happened countless times. Now, imagine that your coworker, or a family member, or your doctor or a friend routinely calls you by the wrong pronoun. That would be hard. This is why using a person’s chosen name and pronouns is essential to affirming their identity and showing basic respect. The experience of being misgendered – having someone use the incorrect pronouns to refer to you – can be uncomfortable and hurtful. The experience of accidentally misgendering someone can be difficult for both parties. Routinely asking and providing pronouns helps everyone avoid assumptions and feel comfortable interacting.

Offering pronouns promotes diversity and inclusion

When you offer your pronouns, it helps normalize the fact that not everyone’s pronouns correspond with their gender. Normalizing pronouns is a powerful way of minimizing harm for transgender, genderqueer, and non-binary people. By simply offering your pronouns, you can become a better ally and help normalize gender identity and sexual orientation.